Summer is here. At this point, you may already have your days fully planned out hour-by-hour to ensure that your children arrive in August bursting with joy and gratitude for the life-giving experiences you planned for them. Or…if you’re like most, you may have little or nothing planned and are hungry for some good ideas.
There is hope, and I’m excited to share some suggestions for shaping a meaningful summer. As you read through this article, my hope is you will walk away with some great ideas, enthusiasm about the possibilities that lie ahead, and peace in knowing that you have what you need to create a memorable summer experience.
For some, summer camp is a great way to make new friends and learn additional skills. The April issue of the Good News offered a variety of summer camp opportunities in South Florida. If you missed it, I encourage you check out at digital.goodnewsfl.org/2019/April/28/. There is likely at least one that aligns with your family’s values and your child’s interests.
When asked for recommendations for choosing the best summer camp, Stacey Cost of Bethany Christian School said, “Summer camp can be a God-send for working parents. My top recommendation is to find a camp where your child is comfortable that has caring staff who are credible instructors and Christian role-models.” Additionally, she noted, “Signing up with a buddy is a good idea to help with jitters.”
Creating the Experience
There are endless possibilities for summer experiences that are low-cost or even free. As you think about which activities and venues best fit your family’s interests, think about what the outcome of the experience might be for all involved. Consider these questions:
- Who might you invite to join you? This might include an adult with whom you hope to deepen your relationship (i.e. friend, parent, grandparent), a peer that your child enjoys being around, or a child who needs a little extra love or support.
- What would make the experience memorable? Might you spring for ice cream afterwards, see how many people you can make smile with a kind gesture or comment, or take fun photos throughout the experience to document your time together. One fun idea is to pick a fruit of the spirit and take pictures of moments or symbols of that particular fruit (i.e. kindness).
- What might you intentionally not include? What might happen relationally, if you asked everyone to leave their phones and other electronic devices at home for two hours or you instituted blocks of time during your time together that were “tech-free”?
- Consider creating a summer journal that each person in the family can decorate prior to your first adventure. At the end of each experience, plan in 10 minutes for each person to reflect or draw pictures about what was most meaningful. Good prompting questions might be include: A moment that stood out to me today is…; I was at my best when…; One example of someone else at their best is…; What I loved most about this experience was…
With a little planning and intention – and maybe a trip to the dollar store for journal supplies – you will have a treasured momento of Summer 2019.
Julie Brasington, author of The Kindness Antennae and blog host of the Happy Home Fairy notes, “Some of our other favorite summer experiences have been when we planned little ways to share kindness with others.”
Some of her favorites are writing inspiring Bible verses in chalk around the neighborhood and putting her son’s favorite muffins in the mailbox for the mail carrier. “If I can find a way to help my kids focus on others instead of a screen this summer, then that is a win!”
Brasington, offers a variety of creative ideas and printable resources on her site to inspire and equip you for the journey.
You may also check out your local community events calendar for free or low-cost events and activities for families including movie nights, bowling, museums, waterparks and library events. As you plan, remember, the activity itself is not what’s most important; it is the experience you create around the activity that will make it memorable… and even transformational. Here’s to an unforgettable Summer 2019!
Terry Morrow Nelson, Ph.D. is an assistant dean and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University. She is also president of the Partnership for Leadership and Transformation. Terry is happily married with two small children.